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Lent and prayer: God’s gift to you

Lent as defined by Wikipedia “is a solemn religious observance that begins on Ash Wednesday and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Sunday. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial. During Lent, many Christians commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence. Many Christians also add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional, to draw themselves near to God.”

In other words, Lent is a God-given opportunity to pause from the intensity of daily living and to reflect on the meaning of Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection providing significance and hope to your life.

Lord, I sense my need of you; yet — I am not quite sure how to reach you. I heard someone say, Read your Bible, but too often the words are like bullets that ricochet off my brain. I heard someone say, pray, but my prayers, hurled heavenward, fall back to earth like lifeless stones. I heard someone say, meditate, but my wandering mind was lost in a desert of random thoughts. This prayer by Robin Van Cleef chillingly describes how difficult it is to deepen your spiritual life.

I share that struggle. I eagerly read the newspaper but sometimes struggle to read God’s Holy Word. I pray and wonder if anyone is listening. Meditation at times seems painfully slow in the midst of my frantic lifestyle.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Van Cleef concludes his prayer: “Lord, speak to me through your word; let it penetrate my mind and my heart. Lord, speak to me through prayer, and turn the lifeless stones to bread. Lord, speak to me in my meditation that I may see, amid life’s wilderness the way, the truth and the life.”

Spiritual growth seldom happens naturally. There has to be a conscious investment of time and energy. Lent is a reminder of why that investment is important. We pause to remember the life and death of Jesus in order to more fully appreciate the resurrection. You can join a Bible study, set aside time to read, meditate and pray.

The Bible itself offers guidance. For example: Don’t be impatient for the Lord to act! Travel steadily along His path. He will honor you. (Psalm 38:34); So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the special blessings that will come. (1 Peter 2:13); Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent. (Ephesians 6:18)

God says: “Don’t be impatient. Travel steadily. Think clearly and exercise self-control. Pray first. Pray at all times.”

REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at larrydavies@sowingseedsoffaith.com.